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Stay or Go.

Byline: Judy Faust Hartnett

Summary paragraph: The Recordkeeper relationship, annuities and much more

This issue's cover image says it all-a person with a suitcase struggling with a big decision, one most readers of PLANSPONSOR face at some point in their career overseeing a retirement plan: "Can we, with a little discussion, make the relationship with our recordkeeper work, or is it best to divorce and move on? Should we, as the song says, stay or should we go?" It's not a simple decision, and generally it depends on the severity of the issues.

"The Recordkeeper Relationship" is the first of two pieces in this issue where we explore these important partnerships. As regular plan benchmarking becomes more commonplace, notes contributing writer Judy Ward, plan sponsors might be able to detect issues early on, before they become irreparable. She writes a helpful guide discussing the typical issues plan sponsors may discover, differentiating which might be worked out with their incumbent recordkeeper and which are insurmountable, generally forcing a sponsor to switch providers.

Following this story is the 2015 PLANSPONSOR Defined Contribution (DC) Survey, "Reaching the DC Summit." In this year's edition, we reveal how plan sponsors judge their recordkeepers in the areas of 13 participant services and 10 sponsor services. We also tell you, based on the responses of more than 5,000 plan sponsors of all sizes, which providers they rate as top in their particular asset class size: $25 million through $50 million, >$50 million through $200 million, >$200 million through $1 billion, and >$1 billion.

Additionally, we include "Clarification on Annuities," a detailed explanation of Department of Labor (DOL) Field Assistant Bulletin (FAB) 2015-02. You may have paid it little attention, but industry experts need to understand why the federal government is so interested in annuities. And if annuities are a stable retirement income option, why aren't sponsors rushing to add them to their plan menu?

Fixed-income options are the topic of this month's Asset Class Focus. While many of today's retirement plans include fixed-income funds, which concentrate on yield while being exposed to rising interest rates, advisers and consultants instead recommend that sponsors consider broadening their exposures in existing single funds and target-date funds (TDFs). Contributing writer John Keefe fills you in on the details.

Our columnists round out the issue, with Steve Saxon forecasting what could come after a final fiduciary rule is approved and Mike Barry debating whether state retirement plans are the answer to giving more Americans a workplace savings program. And, as we close in on the holiday season, with hopefully lots of good cheer for all, in "Gifts From Providers," Fred Reish-together with his Drinker Biddle & Reath LLC colleagues, Bruce Ashton and Joshua Waldbeser-reminds us of best practices for plan sponsors who receive gifts from providers.

Best wishes!

Next Up: 2015 DC Plan Benchmarking Data

With more than 5,000 responses, the 2015 PLANSPONSOR Defined Contribution (DC) Survey, provides valuable insight into sponsor satisfaction with provider services, but did you know that it also informs our annual review of plan design trends? The January 2016 issue of PLANSPONSOR magazine will present additional findings from the 2015 DC Survey and will offer readers insight into how defined contribution plans and sponsor sentiment continue to evolve.

Overall, this survey is the largest cross-provider collection of data in the market and offers sponsors, advisers and providers an independent plan/provider benchmarking resource. The PLANSPONSOR Industry and Provider Reports are now available and can help you compare your plan/provider against a targeted industry or asset-based peer group. For more information on our research and survey products, including samples and pricing, please contact Quinn Keeler ( or Brian O'Keefe (
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Date:Nov 1, 2015
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